Rule for playing Bass in Kirtan, Indian music

Discussion in 'General Instruction [BG]' started by edt844, Dec 14, 2012.

  1. edt844


    Sep 9, 2010
    What guidelines can anyone offer for playing bass guitar in a Kirtan setting. There are the loose rules for bass playing in western music based on our time signatures, but so far can't find anything for playing bass in any Indian music groups.

    My initial thought is to work with the tabla or mrdangam player. Would I stay out of the way of one of the drummers hands, and accent another? Am I close?

    I found my Solkathu book and started at the beginning.

    Any advice or comments?

    Ed T.
  2. start with the drone. Imitate the tampura.
  3. cire113


    Apr 25, 2008
    is alot of indian music based on drones? or most in 1 key?
  4. bongomania

    bongomania Gold Supporting Member Commercial User

    Oct 17, 2005
    PDX, OR
    owner, OVNIFX and OVNILabs
    Not "a lot" of Indian music if you take into account how much Indian music there is, how many different kinds, how many different traditional interpretations. But there are plenty of cases with drones. It's like asking if a lot of fish in the sea are yellow. Sure, hundreds of them--out of the 20,000 or so species there are.

    What I've heard done with some success (on Krishna Das records for example) is where the bass follows (doubles or harmonizes) the vocal line, with some light improvisation and fills. Rhythmically not as busy as the drums, more legato feel overall, but also not just a drone.
  5. edt844


    Sep 9, 2010
    Longfinger and bongomania, Thank you. I appreciate the info. Gives me a couple of starting points. I'll download any YouTube Kirtan videos with a bass player and study the bass parts in relation to the other instruments/voices.

    Ed T.
  6. edt844


    Sep 9, 2010
    I found this, which is similar to the advice given to me here. I haven't yet listened very critically to see how he fits the bass in with the Indian drums. A project for the next week or so.

    Ed T.